For those of you that didn’t get into the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race via the early lottery, I mentioned in a previous blog that there would be three qualifier races this year. They are:
June 19th, 2011 100K Wilmington/Whiteface
July 10th, 2011 Lake Tahoe Trail 100K
July 31, 2011 Crested Butte Alpine Odyssey
The qualifiers are intentionally selected and designed to mimic the conditions at Leadville, sans the altitude.
Each of the events will have 100 slots for the qualification process. The qualification process at each event is:
Fifty (50) spots will be allocated based on the top age-group performance. The spots will be proportionally spread across age groups based on the age-group profile of registered athletes (e.g. if 70% of the registered athletes are men, then approximately 70%, or 35, of the slots will be allocated to men). There will be at least one qualifying spot per age group.
The other fifty (50) spots will be allocated by drawing among finishers who meet the time standard specific to that qualifier. The time standard for Leadville Qualifying Series Races is designed to establish a threshold level of performance that suggests that an athlete has a reasonable likelihood of finishing the Leadville Trail 100 in less than 12 hours.
The time standard will vary from race to race depending on the race's length, profile, total amount of climbing and base altitude. The number of spots per age group and the time standard for each race will be posted no less than 48 hours before the start of each race.
Only riders who achieve the time standard will receive a spot in the Leadville Trail 100.
As you know from last week’s post, I decided to start the VE100 Ride with bailout options. Those of you that are Twitter followers saw that I made it at least 64 miles of the possible 100 miles on Saturday. (Photo reposted below.)
My initial plan for the ride was to remain aerobic, or in Zones 1 and 2, for the first 50 miles. I was going to keep an eye on heart rate on my Garmin.
Learning #1, software updates: I updated the Garmin software the day before the ride. I didn’t know the update would erase my settings for the display screens. I learned about the problem when the group of 12 was rolling out to begin the ride. I didn’t want to stop and mess with a computer so I decided to just ride by RPE and download heart rate data later.
At the first potential bail spot, I decided to go on because I felt pretty good. It was at this stopping point that I shared one of my tricks. Ron Kennedy had a thorn or piece of glass in his tire that he could not remove with his fingernail. I loaned him my safety pin to remove the debris and it worked like a charm.
Trick Shared: I have a safety pin attached to cuff of my cycling gloves. The pin keeps the two gloves together when not on my hands and it serves as a great tool to remove stubborn debris from bike tires.
We passed a couple more of my potential bailing points and I still felt good, so I decided to ride on. At just over 50 miles, there is a second major refueling stop. I felt reasonably good here, so I decided to go for the entire 100 miles.
At the 64 mile point, I’m packing a lot of clothes under that jacket (I swear it's not allwinter fluff!) due to a 28-degree start temperature and a 57 degree finish temperature.
Bruce Runnels seems happy to be riding over a century today – 120 miles?
I did some experimenting with hydration and fueling. Hydration was primarily a formula of sodium citrate, sodium bicarbonate and some flavoring (lemon juice or Emergen-C). I did have one Coke during the ride. Fuel came from solid foods, rather than liquid. I tried this technique because of a presentation I attended by Dr. Stacy Sims at the USA Cycling Coaching Conference last fall. I’ll do a separate column or post on this issue alone at a later date.
You can see that this year’s ride was about 18 minutes slower than last year. The fastest ride time for the VE100 was 5 hours flat and we were very lucky with near constant tailwinds for the majority of the ride. We weren’t as lucky with the wind this year.
When I downloaded the data I was surprised to see so much time in the higher heart rate zones. I had over an hour more time at Zone 3 and above this year. I suspect that due do the illness and low training in recent weeks, I drove higher heart rates but had reduced ability to turn that into speed.
Learning #2: When I am detrained, my RPE correlation to heart rate is not as accurate as when I’m well trained.
I decided to look back at training data from the last two years. I looked at gross weekly training hours for the week of the century ride and the five weeks prior.
Here’s what I found:
As you can see from the chart, I’m down about 12.5 hours compared to last year. There’s not much anyone can do when they get sick except try to get healthy as quickly as possible.
Though I was worried the VE100 had the potential to make me sick or give me other injury issues, now that I’m out four days past the ride I can safely say that I’ve recovered well. In fact, I felt pretty good on Monday.
In the next day or so I will sit down and begin to plan training through mid-August. Looking at my current training status, I have some work to do before I’m ready to race…
I am now faced with the same decision many of you have to make at one point or another in your training and racing journey. My fitness stinks, should I do the VE100 (Vernal Equinox 100 miles) anyway?
Within the past month, I had a block of travel and I got a cold. That translates to about three weeks with very little training. One of those weeks saw total training hours of 1:35 (a very weak 1:35 at that). My last long ride was March 6th (ride time 3:35, “out” time around 4:00 – 55.43 miles, 3,700 ft of climbing).
The VE100 is less climbing (3,100 ft over 100 miles) and will take about 5:15 ride time – that is if I’m lucky enough to have someone pull me around through a good chunk of it. If I have to do it solo, it will take longer.
Should I do the century or something shorter?
- A rule of thumb I use is that if you’ve done 50-80% of the time and/or distance within the last month, the longer distance is doable. It may not be pretty, but it’s doable.
- An extended long ride could jump-start my fitness, similar to a crash week of training.
- I will have people to ride with and that’s always motivating.
- There is some risk of overdoing it on this ride. (Saddle sores, knee pain, getting run down again opening up the door to another virus, etc.)
- This isn’t an important race, but only a training event – is the risk worth the return?
- I don’t like suffering when I’m lacking fitness. (I don’t mind suffering when I’m fit. I know, strange.)
What will I do?
I’ll start the ride, remain aerobic, and decide along the way if I should do the century or cut it short. I have about four “bailing points” where I can head back home if I don’t feel good. The main question I’ll be asking myself along the way is…
By doing this ride, by going further, will it help my fitness and get me closer to my season goals or will it cause a setback?
Last week I saw a special report on American Airlines. The report by 9News Denver noted that American has made each one of its drink carts 12 pounds lighter. Multiply this weight savings over 19,000 carts and 600 planes, and American is saving 1.8 million gallons of fuel equating to $5 Million.
I know that weighing each passenger and their carryon baggage may bring airport delays and complaints, but what if passengers could opt-in for the weigh in? What if that opt-in could reduce your ticket price, result in a refund or perhaps reward you with some frequent flyer miles?
Would you opt for an airport weigh in if it took a bit more time, but you could be rewarded for being lighter than the “average” passenger?
You think you probably have allergies because your runny-nose and itchy-eye problem seems to be seasonal and somewhat predictable. You can’t really put your finger on the exact trigger and the problem becomes more complex if you travel.
You may, along with many others, feel that going through full-blown rounds of allergy testing is unnecessary. You feel your allergy problem isn’t that bad, but it is bad enough you’d like to have a better grip on what opens your nose faucet. What can you do?
One thing you can do to begin figuring out what it is you’re allergic to is to subscribe to an allergy alert program such as the one offered by Pollen.com. This site offers an email sent right to your inbox that tells you what the active allergens are for today and tomorrow. You can follow a link to the website for a four-day forecast.
Not only can you see what the active allergens are in your area, you can see what allergens are active in other areas around the nation for those of you that travel.
If you can narrow down what triggers your allergic reactions, you can take actions with herbal remedies or over-the-counter medications to minimize the problems.
With the summer race season just 8 to 10 weeks away, it seems that athletes are losing focus and trying to do too much. The easy workouts are too fast and that behavior is compromising the fast workouts.
Are you sliding into old training patterns that are going to negatively affect your race season?
Here are the three biggest mistakes I see athletes making right now:
1. The warm spring temperatures are causing a large training load increase. The result I’m seeing is complaints of sore knees, hips and tendons.
2. Easy workouts aren’t easy. The temptation to make every workout fast or hard is too much for some people. Triathletes are compromising improvement in a weak sport because they cannot control their effort in their stronger sport(s). Cyclists are losing high-end power production because their legs are continuously tired.
3. Athletes are in the routine trap. While I do like routine, doing the same workouts for weeks on end will not bring about continuous improvement. You will reach a plateau.
How do you fix the problems?
1. Look ahead and plan your training load. It is better to go into a race slightly undertrained than to not be at the start line due to injury or illness. If you are self-coached, begin planning your workouts beginning with the week before your event and work backwards to today. You may find that you have to rework the weekly plan a few times because there isn’t enough time to do two things at once. Those things are building your current fitness level at a reasonable pace and achieving what you consider to be an optimum training load in the three weeks prior to race day.
2. Get some self-discipline. For some people, this is easier to write than to do. If you lack the discipline to go easy, you will never achieve your potential.
3. Design workouts to address your performance limiters. We all have our favorite workouts. Typically, it is the workouts we don’t enjoy that will bring the success we seek. Design your success.
With a few slight adjustments now, you still have time to experience a season that produces personal best performances.
Are you willing, and disciplined enough, to make some changes?
One of the keynote speakers was Bahram Akradi, CEO of Life Time Fitness. I’ve seen him speak on a couple of occasions now and his passion for fitness is obvious.
What I found most interesting about his presentation was a stated strategy for endurance athletes. Life Time is incorporating endurance events and endurance channels (running, cycling, triathlon) into the health club or gym experience. I don’t know that any other health club that is taking this approach to keeping members active.
Most clubs have offerings for personalized weight training and various fitness classes, but I don’t know of any other fitness organization like Life Time that has a strategy for endurance athletes.
By being involved in the event business (triathlons, mountain bike races, etc.), Life Time has a way to put well-run events, goals, into the future to give athletes a training goal. Within the club, members can focus on these goals as an individual or as a group. Of course you don’t have to be a Life Time member to participate in any of the events.
Cracking the typical gym-rat mold for health clubs could give Life Time the edge to endure an ever-changing, tough market.
Racers will now be lined up according to past performance, with the professional racers at the beginning and the slower, beginner racers taking up the end of the line of the mass start.
Though it sounds good on paper, rather in cyberspace, but there will need to be a way to enforce any proposed changes to the start. You see, in past years, racers were instructed to line up according to past and/or predicted performance.
Some did line up in the correct area. (“Areas” were in one-hour increments such as sub-8-hour performance, 8 to 9 hours, 9 to 10 hours, 10 to 11 hours and 11 to 12 hours.) The areas were marked by volunteers holding cardboard signs on the side of the road.
Here are some of the issues with the past attempts to corral athletes according to predicted performance seed times:
Overestimation of ability. People with zero experience mountain bike racing believe that 100 (104 actually) miles on a mountain bike can’t be that much harder than a hilly road bike course. Particularly since the rumor is Leadville is “not technical”.
The Hollywood effect. Some athletes are eager to say they rode on the wheel of one of the big stars of the sport. Others get a charge out of getting their photo taken while standing near some of the name-recognized racers. Still others want work to get a cameo appearance in video footage. These people line up as close as possible to the professional racers.
Honor system is based on wishes for some. People really do want to perform at a sub-9-hour speed. They’ve trained for it and many believe they are capable. Want and wish is different than actual. Race seeding should be based on some actual performance, not a wish.
Loosely encouraged. In the past, racers were loosely encouraged to line up according to ability. As a result, racers lined up where they pleased, based on personal justification. In some cases it happened, in others it didn’t.
What to do?
I have some thoughts:
All racers with past race performance in the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race have established times. Use those times to establish start priority. Since some people have had mechanical issues, and last year’s time might not be the best, look at the last three to five years and allow the racer to have the best time in that period to establish start wave.
For the qualifying races, there are probably racers that have done both races in the past. Use that data to establish a scaling factor to seed qualifying racers into Leadville waves.
Assign each racer a color-coded and bar-coded bike plate or in the race chip. On race morning, all color-coded bar plates in the sub-8-hour corral will be the same. All color-coded plates in the 9 to 10 hour corral will be the same, etc. On race morning officials can easily see if someone is in the wrong corral.
With today’s technology it is easy to track all athletes electronically. Do the wave start any way you please (rolling or staged 30-seconds apart), but any way you choose, it is possible to track if people are in the correct wave or not.
Lastly, if there is no way to enforce the performance-based start, there will be no changes in athlete behavior.
So what if a racer is a beginner and lines up in the 8- to 9-hour corral?
In a Facebook discussion, A.F. contacted me because he was having some trouble getting his 500 meter swim time down to 8 minutes in order to pass a portion of the U.S. Air Force Physical Ability and Stamina Test (PAST) test procedure. Though his goal was a fast 500 for the PAST test, maybe the discussion will help you too. Take a look at the discussion that began about a month ago:
A.F: Gale, My goal is 500 meters in 8 minutes for the USAF PAST test. I’m right around 9 minutes as of now and I need to improve, but still maintain energy for a run, push-ups, sit ups, and pull ups. Would using your training method (swim fast to get fast 25s and swim fast 50s) improve my speed without compromising the energy I need to complete my other specs?
Also, I don’t really do a warm up. I’ve never been taught how to swim I just kind of picked up my form from watching others. What sort of warm up should I be doing??
Confused, A. F.
Gale: Hi A.F. ~
It looks like you're managing to average 27 seconds per 25m for your 500m test and you need 24 seconds per 25m. You need a combination of speed (you can use the short workouts above) and endurance. I don't know how many swims you're doing a week, but if you are doing two swims, make one focus on speed and the second on endurance (swimming 50s or 100s with only 10-20 seconds of rest between each one). If you have access to a swim coach in your area, a few lessons might improve your efficiency as well.
A.F: I have one more question. I'm in the pool at least 4 times a week swimming about 1000meter/yards each swim session. I do interval training with speed and distance. I do speed training after my warm up and main set. (Will this hurt me rather than help me improve?) The next day I do a mix of a faster than normal 500 with a 3 minute break and then an easy 500. I take a day off and then I do my endurance swim of a mile with a pace of 1 minute per lap so a total of a 36 minute mile. I guess the question is should I be doing my sprints before my main sets like stated in your fast 50's?
Gale: You're swimming more than I thought, that's good if you're looking to develop swim fitness. To answer your question, yes, do the speedy short intervals first.
Best wishes and let me know when you pass the test ~
A.F.: Gale~ I've been doing your fast 50's along with some fast 100's and I would like to thank you so much for putting this workout online. My 500 swim is now exactly where I want it. It was at 9 minutes and now it’s at 8 minutes. You've really helped me out and again I THANK YOU so much!!!!
A.F.: My big superior came down last Thursday and had us do a intense swim workout of 1 minute sprint, 30 seconds rest repeated 12 times. It was a cake walk for me since I’d been doing your workout. FYI you said to let you know when I passed the past test, I actually take my final one tomorrow. And since I know I will pass it I leave March 29th for basic training!